A TikToker is facing backlash after uploading a video showing him reselling shoes he pulled down off of power lines.
Blake Messick reports that he and a friend bought up gear to disguise themselves as construction workers before heading to a street with a particularly large number of shoes strung up over the wire.
“When you see shoes on power lines, you might think of gang territory,” he says in the video. “But what I think of is profits.”
Donning the construction vests and helmets, Messick and his friend start cutting down the shoes, positing that they “don’t belong to anybody, they’re literally the same as trash on the side of the road.”
From there, they take their haul to a nearby shoe resale store and sell a box of them to some guy in the parking lot for $20.
To Messick, the whole thing clearly seemed harmless, but viewers disagreed, pointing out that in Black communities, shoes are often tossed up on electrical lines in memorial of someone who’s died.
“Ya’ll do know those shoes were hung there to pay respects to those who have passed on right?” one user asked.
“It’s the disrespect for the dead for me,” another commented.
A third suggested that next they would probably be “taking flowers and crosses off the side of the road, littering is bad guys.”
People also took issue with the claim that shoes on a power line signify “gang territory,” and suggested Messick stop speaking about something he doesn’t seem to know much about.
Possibly exacerbating the situation, Messick later posted a 20 minute video to YouTube titled “i messed up.” The first minute is him attempting to stage a tearful apology “for everything” as his friends coach him on apologizing the “right” way, followed by a title card calling it “The Most Expensive Apology Video Ever Made.”
The cynical response to the criticism he received — even though there reportedly was an actual apology buried somewhere in that 20 minutes — was an odd choice for anyone who’s trying to be famous on the internet. But the “apology” video as well as the shoe snatching video both remain up on Messick’s channels.